© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008
Born: 18 August 1932, Chabris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus."
Prize share: 1/4
Retroviruses are viruses whose genomes consist of RNA and whose genes can be incorporated into host cells' DNA. In 1983, Luc Montaigner and Françoise Barré-Sinoussi discovered a retrovirus in patients with swollen lymph glands that attacked lymphocytes - a kind of blood cell that is very important to the body's immune system. The retrovirus, later named Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), proved to be the cause of the immunodeficiency disease AIDS. This discovery has been crucial in radically improving treatment methods for AIDS sufferers.